It Looks So Real

Dear reader,
The following play was a writing assignment submitted in 2007 at UVic as part of the Creative Writing program. It essentially is about deepfakes, though that term would not be in circulation for a few years.
Enjoy,

TITLE: It Looks So Real

CHARACTER LIST AND DESCRIPTION

            GABRIEL-24, male, Oliver’s roommate.

            OLIVER-24, male, Gabriel’s roommate.

            KAYLA-24, female, good friend of Gabriel and Oliver.

            PRESIDENT- Male voice, from TV.

            NEWS ANCHOR  – Male voice, from TV.

SETTING

            The entire play takes place in Gabriel and Oliver’s apartment.  The play is set in the U.S. in the near future. 

SET

            A modest house.  A couch faces a TV that faces away from the audience.  Any sounds from the TV (ie. News music, presidential address, news anchor, video game sounds) are heard through the speakers.  The TV is never seen by the audience, only heard.  There are the beginnings of stairs which lead off stage.

*

Scene One

Oliver sits on a couch playing a videogame on TV.  Gabriel enters through the door, turns to lock it, then comes in looking flustered.

GABRIEL

Hey Oliver.  What movie you watching?

OLIVER laughing

Try again, man.

GABRIEL

What? No…Oh shit, no way!  What game is that?

OLIVER

The new Grand Theft Auto.  Looks real, huh.

Gabriel sits next to Oliver.

GABRIEL

Just released?

OLIVER

Yeah, man. Got it at midnight.

GABRIEL

Couldn’t wait, eh.  Bad news though.  That presidential address everyone’s been talking about is on right away. 

OLIVER

Word is the president’s dead.

GABRIEL

Well there’s one way to find out.

Oliver puts down the controller and, using a remote, turns on a channel with NEWS station intro music playing. 

GABRIEL

If he was killed then who is that?

OLIVER

Well I’ll be damned.  Don’t know how he survived that last assassination attempt.  Or the one before that, for that matter.  Oh, here he goes.

President:  My fellow Americans, much fear and many questions have arisen from the events in our great nation these last few months.  It is inevitable, then, that many rumours begin to circulate as well, many of which tell of secretive behaviour by the American Government—

GABRIEL

Doesn’t look phased at all now, does he.  He looks plenty healthy enough to venture outside the Whitehouse. 

OLIVER

What do you mean?

GABRIEL

Haven’t you been paying attention to the news, Oliver?  It’s way too risky for the president to speak in public anymore.  He’s just gonna do these weekly TV addresses to “stay in touch with Americans”.   

OLIVER

How can a man no one ever sees lead a country!  In times like these! 

GABRIEL

That’s just what the world’s coming to, man.  Shit, even this here ‘the land of the free’.  Bah!  People are starting to go missing.  For doing nothing!  That reminds me. They arrested that Patrick guy last week.  Idiot got caught saying some things you shouldn’t say downtown. 

OLIVER

What did he say?

GABRIEL

Not sure.  There are rumours of course. Everything from lipping some cops to him shouting that we live in a fascist dictatorship or something. 

OLIVER

He was always a little nuts, that one.  But still, to be arrested for –

There are three knocks on the door.  Gabriel jumps to his feet and Oliver looks up at him blank faced.

OLIVER

Who’s that, man?

GABRIEL

Quick!  Quick, turn off the TV!

Oliver hurriedly turns off the TV and there is silence.

GABRIEL  quickly

I meant to tell you right away.  Some policemen gave me a hard time earlier for –

There are another three knocks.

OLIVER

I get it, man! I get it!  Shit.  You got to get out by the balcony, no use hiding.

GABRIEL

The window looks out onto the street.  They’ll be watching! 

OLIVER 

You don’t want to get caught hiding!

GABRIEL

Oh man.  Maybe it’s not even them, maybe…shit.  Alright. Let’s get the door.  Play it cool.

The two walk over to the door, take a long look at each other, and Oliver slowly opens the door.

OLIVER

Shit, Kayla!

He opens the door fully and walks away laughing. There stands Kayla.

GABRIEL

Kayla!  You had me almost climbing out of the balcony!  He laughs  We’re idiots.  Well, come on…Oh shit, Kayla, what’s wrong?

Kayla enters.

KAYLA

Close the door. 

OLIVER no longer laughing

Yeah, close it Gabe.  Come, come.  Have a seat.  What happened?

Kayla sits down on the couch.

KAYLA

Came home and my house was searched.  My roommate’s gone.

GABRIEL

No! Not Linda! What did that silly hippy do!

OLIVER

Are you in any way involved?

KAYLA

I don’t know. I don’t know!  Linda’s always got to make her opinion known everywhere she goes.  She has no sense!  I told her she’d get in trouble if she kept running her mouth.  Always telling everyone the president is dead, that the government is brainwashing us. So many conspiracies.  She told me-Oh shit, the president is on TV right now!  Turn it on.

OLIVER

Who cares about that.  You’re sure Linda’s not just out and about somewhere? She’s such a space cadet.

KAYLA

No, she said she’d be cooking us dinner tonight.  But turn it on.  After hearing her talk so much about it I got to see him for myself.

Gabriel reaches for the remote and turns on the TV.  The news theme music is playing again.

KAYLA

Dammit! Missed it.  Did you guys see any of it?

GABRIEL

Yeah, we did before you showed up and scared the shit out of us.  Oh man, Linda must have been so scared.  Just you knocking had us panicking. 

KAYLA

Did he look different at all?  Sound different? 

GABRIEL

What?

KAYLA

The president, I mean.

GABRIEL

Looked fine to me.  Why do you care so much? 

KAYLA

Just something Linda was saying. 

Oliver takes the remote from Gabriel and switches TV back to the video game. He picks up the controller.

OLIVER

Kayla, you should crash here tonight.  Game a bit, we can think things through-

KAYLA

Holy, is this a video game? It looks so real.

A moment of silence between the three as they watch the TV.

Fade out

Scene Two

Next day.  Kayla and Gabriel sit gaming.  Kayla is wearing a boy’s shirt.  Oliver comes in through the door quickly, slamming it behind him.

OLIVER

Guys, turn on the news quick!  Crazy shit!

Kayla and Gabriel do not respond.  Oliver grabs the remote and switches the channel.  News music plays.

GABRIEL

What? 

KAYLA

Hey!

OLIVER

It’s worth it, believe me.

GABRIEL

Whatever you say, man.

News anchor:  Crisis in the world tonight.  The following footage is of our once trusted neighbour, Mexico, parading two nuclear weapons down the streets of Mexico City.  In a candid speech earlier today, the president has announced that the actions of Mexico cannot be tolerated and the country be occupied by American troops so as to preserve the safety of all.

KAYLA

Invade Mexico…what?

OLIVER

Crazy, hey. 

GABRIEL

They’re crazy to just flaunt their bombs like that.  ‘Specially with what we did to Canada when they stepped out of line. 

KAYLA

But Mexico?  When did they get so…aggressive?

OLIVER

Those Mexicans –

GABRIEL

Listen! It’s about Linda!

OLIVER

Oh, shit.

News anchor:  Updates later in the show.  In local news tonight, Linda Wilson and three of her followers were killed in a shootout with police yesterday evening.  As the following footage depicts, Wilson opened fire on two officers…

KAYLA

What! That’s bullshit!  I’ve never seen those people in my –

OLIVER

Gabe, it’s that Pat guy!  That doesn’t make sense–

GABRIEL

Listen!

News anchor:  Wilson and her followers have been suspected terrorists for some time now. In a statement released earlier today, the Chief of Police said:  “the deceased Linda Wilson, Margaret Smith, Patrick Mayfair, and Bruce Cotton were all four involved in criminal activity throughout their lives and have ties to terrorist groups throughout the world. Documents in which a plan to take city hall hostage and possibly a bus bombing are outlined were recovered from the home of the leader, Wilson”.  

KAYLA

No!

GABRIEL

This can’t be right.  Can’t be.

OLIVER

We all saw the footage.  That was Linda and Patrick!

News anchor: It is asked that any who know of other followers of the traitor Wilson step forward.  The following picture is of Wilson’s roommate and suspected partner in crime, Kayla Bass.  Any with information on Bass’s whereabouts are asked to step forward.  A substantial reward has been offered.  In weather tonight, our meteorologist…

Stunned silence.

GABRIEL

Holy shit.

OLIVER

You can’t leave here, Kayla.

GABRIEL

There’s got to be a mistake.

OLIVER

Kayla?

Oliver takes the remote and turns off the TV.  Kayla sits in silence staring at the screen.  Oliver puts his arm around her.

OLIVER

I’m sorry about Linda.  But listen to me.  You have to stay here for a while. 

KAYLA

But Linda isn’t involved in…She can’t be…I have to find out for sure.

OLIVER

They’ll be searching for you already!  Listen to me, we all saw the TV.

GABRIEL

You saw the TV, Kayla! 

OLIVER

Easy, man. Calm down. 

KAYLA

I know! I know. I saw it.  I just can’t…

OLIVER

I don’t know what she was involved in, but we know you’re innocent. 

KAYLA 

It’s Linda we’re talking about!  Linda!  She’s not a fucking terrorist!

OLIVER

It doesn’t matter if she WAS. She’s gone. 

Gabriel stands and starts pacing.

GABRIEL

This is nuts.  What the hell is going on?  Like Linda and Patrick killed in a shootout?  A reward for Kayla?   Shit, we’re invading friggen Mexico! 

OLIVER

Easy man!

GABRIEL

No Oliver.  This is crazy.  Too crazy. 

KAYLA

I don’t believe any of it.

OLIVER

Well if it’s on the news, it…it doesn’t matter what you believe.  Linda’s gone. 

GABRIEL

Something’s going on.  This is crazy.  We got to know for sure.

Kayla stands and joins Gabriel

KAYLA

Yeah, Oliver, we got to know.

OLIVER

Fine then, I’ll go and see if I can figure anything out.  You guys have to stay put.

KAYLA

But-

OLIVER

No Kayla, you have to promise me you won’t leave once I’m gone.  We have no idea what’s going on. It’s just too risky.

GABRIEL

I’ll stay with you Kayla.  We’ll game.  Distract ourselves, you know?

KAYLA

That stupid game looks too real.  It creeps me out. 

GABRIEL

Never mind then.  I’ve had enough TV for one day anyways.

KAYLA

K fine, Oliver, I’ll stay.  I’ll give you some cash.  I need you to pick me up some clothes at some point.  Just phone me when you’re at the mall.

OLIVER

So with all this heat you were going to just waltz around the mall for a while, huh.  He laughs nervously.  Don’t worry about the cash.  Alright.  I’ll be home around 7 probably. 

Oliver leaves out the door.  Gabriel gives Kayla a hug.

GABRIEL

I’m sorry, Kayla.  I really am.  This is horrible.

KAYLA

I need some time to just think on it.  You can go ahead and play your game. I’ll just be around the house.  I’ll tidy up a bit, I guess.

GABRIEL

Naw, that game kind of spooks me too.  It leaves me with a weird feeling.  I’ll help you out.

He follows her up the stairs and off stage.

Fade out

Scene Three

The apartment is dark. The door is ajar with flashing police lights shining through. The home has been ransacked. The TV is on with commercials playing.  The couch and stage are empty.  News theme music begins to play.

News Anchor:  In breaking news tonight, three more followers of the terrorist Linda Wilson have been arrested, including the wanted Kayla Bass.  As the following footage depicts, Bass and fellow criminals Gabriel Boweman and Oliver Marrow were captured after a tense standoff with police outside of Marrow’s home.  The swiftness of these arrests, as stated by the chief of police, can be attributed to those citizens who willingly offer their aid in maintaining order and civility in these pressing times.  In world news, Mexico has…

Black out

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